Environment minister Mark H Durkan has urged motorists to take extra care on the roads over the Christmas period.
Mr Durkan said the festive period can be dangerous on the roads and appealed to motorists to enjoy themselves safely.
“This weekend sees the Christmas party season begin in earnest, but it is also a time when the nights are at their darkest, increasing the danger. I want everyone to enjoy Christmas and New Year but I want them to do it safely.
“Already this year, there will be 52 empty places at the dinner table this Christmas due to road deaths. Let us all do our best to make sure there are no more.
“I implore everyone to pay attention, slow down, wear your seatbelt and avoid driving when over-tired or if drink or drugs have been consumed.
“It can be tempting to take an unplanned drink, particularly at Christmas parties, and consider driving home. However, even small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so thinking that you can have one drink and drive safely is not realistic. Leave the car at home and use a taxi, bus, train or a designated driver who can enjoy complimentary soft drinks under Coca Cola’s Christmas road safety campaign.
“Lives can change forever the moment drivers take a drink and decide to drive home. Just one drink will impair your driving. It is your choice and your responsibility. ‘Never, Ever Drink and Drive’” he said.